Listen & Do #3: Lou Harrison’s Piano and Gamelan

Lou Harrison was an eclectic artist who drew inspiration from many places, both inside and outside music. He wasn’t interested just in making cultural references, but in using them and incorporating them into his work. Harrison was a very physical, very sensual composer – analog, in today’s terms. Here he pairs the traditional gamelan with a piano tuned to absolute pitch. Simple melodic and harmonic figures repeat and evolve. Each – piano and gamelan is changed by the other. How?

Gamelan Pacifica and Jarrad Powell
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  1. Roger Hale says

    Thank you!

  2. At the beginning the gamelan is dominant. The sound is resonant and fluid. Soon this lush beauty is punctuated with piano notes. The contrast between piano and gamelan reminds me a little of the contrast and interplay between organ and piano in Saint-Saens’ 3rd symphony. The interplay between gamelan and piano is one in which energy flows to the piano, which is dominant at the end. I could not stop myself from playing it over and over again, never tiring of it while it swirled around in my head.

  3. can we have a like icon?

  4. Cherrie Henkle says

    I hear the 2 “changed” by each other in the way that 2 dancers are changed by each other. As an individual they are still quite beautiful and fluid, but together they mesh well and come together as one, providing a completely new scene, while still showing flashes and hints of the individuals. This was beautful, and nearly instantly I could almost picture the music as dancers, floating around each other with such fluidity and grace. Picture a girl in a long flowing dress with ribbons swiring around her, and a gentleman swinging her around quickly and gently at the same time. Very loose and relaxed, flirty even, but still controlled.